FAQ: I’ve heard USDA has resumed providing financial incentives to farmers to get them to grow and harvest biomass for energy and for making into biobased products. Tell me more.
Answer: USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administrator Val Dolcini earlier this summer announced that incentives are resumed for farmers and foresters who grow and harvest biomass for renewable energy and biobased products. The funds come through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
Expands types of feedstock to be used for biofuels
“This program expands the types of feedstock that can be used to make renewable fuels and biobased products, laying the foundation for growing more products made in rural America,” said Dolcini.
“The Biomass Crop Assistance Program currently supports more than 890 growers and landowners farming nearly 49,000 acres to establish and produce dedicated, nonfood energy crops for delivery to energy conversion facilities. It is a key piece of USDA’s strategy to grow the rural economy and create new markets for our farmers and ranchers.”
BCAP gives financial assistance for biobased products
Facilities seeking to be qualified by USDA to accept biomass began enrollment between May 23 and June 6, 2016. BCAP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who establish and maintain new crops of energy biomass, or who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a USDA-approved facility that creates energy or biobased products.
In fiscal 2016, $3 million is available for BCAP. A portion of the funds will be provided to two existing BCAP projects in New York and Ohio/Pennsylvania to expand acres planted to shrub willow and giant miscanthus. Farmers and forest landowners may enroll for biomass establishment and maintenance payments for these two projects between June 15 and Sept. 13, 2016.
Corn residue eligible for biomass removal incentive
Also, between June 15 to Aug. 4, 2016, USDA was accepting applications from foresters and farmers seeking incentives to remove biomass residues from fields or national forests for delivery to energy generation facilities. The retrieval payments are provided at match of $1 for $1, up to $20 per dry ton. Eligible crops include corn residue, diseased or insect-infested wood materials, or orchard waste.
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack sees the biobased economy as one of the pillars that strengthen rural communities. Thus, USDA helped jumpstart efforts to provide a reliable supply of advanced plant materials for biofuels. Over the course of this administration, USDA has invested $332 million to accelerate research on renewable energy ranging from genomic research on bioenergy feedstock crops, to development of biofuel conversion processes and costs/benefit estimates of renewable energy production.